Natalism has been going around lately. TRS has linked the problem to affluence, Yuray has made the fairly obvious observation that minor tax incentives are not enough to raise the baby-making rate, while Spandrell has linked the the fertility crisis to kids costing lots and recommends making it profitable with major tax incentives.
I’m actually rather surprised by Spandrell’s answer. He’s the one who’s been pushing Status Points theory the hardest around here and has noted that any kind of insanity can be accomplished when status is on the line. As we’ve seen, people will go to almost any length for status.
It’s obvious that women want to work rather than procreate, but this is not because (most*) women particularly like working or because they prefer work to marriage and family. It’s not because housework is drudgery, most women who work do something similar to housework in their jobs.
The reason women want to work is because working is high status.** The reason women don’t have children is because having children is low status, and the more children the lower the status.
Examples of this abound: When you read about the Duggars or another large family, you will almost assuredly find criticisms along the line of ‘use a condom’ or ‘brood mare’. Women who stay home to care for their family are ‘stepford wives’. Women who spend their lives on home and family are ‘wasting their lives‘. Relationships show a lack of ambition and too much traditionalism (which is negative). Young marriage is discouraged. Etcetera, etcetera. Feminists have been working very hard to destroy any status attached to motherhood.
You’ve no doubt heard the blatant lie that motherhood is the toughest job in the world? Nobody could honestly believe taking care of a child is tougher than working in a coal mine or as an infantryman in Afghanistan, but everybody spreads that lie because it bolsters the low and declining status of women with children.
Having children is low status, but even beyond that status games pervade all of motherhood. The mommy wars aren’t about whether children are better off being raised by their parents or by daycare workers, it’s about who gets good mother status points: stay-at homes or working mothers.
Before you thinks that good mother status contradicts my thesis, know that low status is still some status, while having no children is no status. Have you ever read an article by childfree women? I can almost guarantee you it was complaining about how others expect them to have kids, think them odd that they don’t, or using the status of having kids to one-up them. In other words, their primary complaints are about the status hits they are taking for not having children. These status hits gnaw away at them despite having an ‘exciting, meaningful’ life of travel, work, and leisure. (Notice how they will always status signal other areas in their life to make up for this lack of status).
Having children is lower status than eduction, working, travel, or having status-giving interests. Being a stay-at-home mother is low status compared to being a working mother. Having many children is lower status than having one or two children. Having children young is lower status than having them once infertility hits.
This, more than anything, is why he have such low birth rates.
So, the answer to the fertility crisis is not tax changes, natalism benefits, or motherhood welfare. The way to get women to want to reproduce is to make children the ultimate status symbol.
Read the story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29 and 30. Having children was high status, so they did everything they could possibly to produce more children so they could win the status competition against each other.
We need to make it so that instead of the culture lauding whorish celebrities and woman CEO’s, mothers are celebrated. We need news reports to make glowing reports on women having their 6th child, rather than shows idolizing women who adopt foreign children or
slutty daring dresses. When Mrs. Duggar has more status than Hillary Clinton, that’s when we will turn this ship around.
Sadly, we don’t control the levers of the culture-industry, so there’s not much we can do for society as a whole, but there are things you can do in your own little circles.
Make a point of praising women who have kids and their mothering skills. If a family is thinking of having another kid, make a positive comment. Praise young men and women you know who are thinking of young marriage, and otherwise encourage young people aroudn you to marry early. Let some disappointment slip out if people say ‘two’s enough for us’. Register some thinly concealed disapproval or contempt if someone says, ‘we don’t want children’. If you can smoothly do backhanded compliments or negs for the self-sterilizing, that would work too. And so on.
You’re working against the combined forces of the media, academy, bureaucracy, and culture, but you might be able to have some influence. Status is mainly an abstraction of a multitude of positive and negative social interactions. If you add to the interactions around you, elevating motherhood and deriding self-sterilization, you might indirectly change a few minds in your local communities. If enough people do it, maybe the trend could be reversed.
One warning, try to keep it subtle enough. Push too hard or too blatantly and you it might backfire if they get defensive or if you look like a jerk. You want to subtly influence their general perception of status, not come off as someone pushing a low status opinion.
* Before some idiot brings it up: yes, not all women are alike, yes, there are some women that like their jobs, and yes, some women just don’t like children. A generalization is not an absolute, spare me.
** And yes, because they need cash, but the need for cash came after the desire for status. The drive of women into the workplace was due to status, but once women entered, it drove wages down and costs up, forcing more women into the workplace for monetary reasons.